This is my go-to royal icing recipe! It's a meringue-based decorating icing that dries shiny and hard for perfect cookies.
Royal icing is the type of frosting used on many decorated cookies, especially the kind at boutique markets, because it dries hard and can be packaged without ruining the cookie design.
I love it for its versatility. You don't have to be a cookie decorator to use it.
I'll tell you all the different ways I use royal icing, including why it's the best for my Classic Oatmeal Cookies.
This easy royal icing recipe is perfect for piping, coloring and decorating with detail. It dries shiny and with a bit of a crack.
You can make royal icing on the thin side for flooding (creating a smooth surface of frosting on the cookie), or thicker for piping detailed designs. It just depends on the amount of water you add, and how long you mix it!
In this post, I'm sharing my foolproof tutorial for making royal icing with meringue powder as well as my top tips for adjusting the consistency of your icing, coloring it, and more!
Ingredients in This Recipe
I make this royal icing recipe with meringue powder. It's easier, and more food-safe than a raw egg white version.
Meringue powder (or powdered egg whites) can usually be found in the grocery store baking aisle. But if not, here's a quick link to get it online.
In addition to the meringue powder, you'll need a little water and confectioners' sugar. Seriously, that's it!
Can the Meringue Powder Be Substituted?
No, I highly recommend making the royal icing recipe with meringue powder as instructed. I've used this recipe many times and it always works perfectly.
Royal icing can also be made with a fresh egg white, but that involves a different formula, and I don't feel it's food-safe enough to share.
I use royal icing tinted green for my Shamrock cookies.
How to Make Royal Icing with Meringue Powder
Making no-egg royal icing is incredibly easy to make, but it does take a little patience. If you have a stand mixer, now's the time to break it out!
- In a bowl combine the sugar, meringue powder, and ¼ cup water.
- Beat on low speed until stiff peaks form. This will take about 5 minutes.
- If needed, add more water to create a thinner icing.
Adjusting the Royal Icing's Consistency
The meringue powder will whip up into an actual meringue if mixed too long.
I slowly and gently mix my icing for about 5 minutes, but some people like a light, fluffy and thick royal icing so they beat it much faster with less water. The fluffy version doesn't dry shiny and it's a bit more crumbly when dry. So be sure to play around with the consistency you like.
Check out my Eerie Eyeball Cake for more icing consistency tips.
Coloring Royal Icing
Royal icing takes food coloring really well. I use gel paste colors because they are more concentrated then the liquid drops, and come in so many colors.
If I'm making a bright red or green and need plenty of food coloring, it's also nice not to be adding extra liquid to my perfect icing.
I use royal icing for my Snowman Stack Cookies.
How Long Does It Take for Royal Icing to Dry?
This type of icing dries out quickly (and if it dries out in your piping tip it's a mess to clean up), so cover your piping tips with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel even if you are setting them aside for just a few minutes.
Keep containers of royal icing covered tightly as well.
However, it will take about 6 hours for the icing to dry fully (i.e. to the point where the iced cookies can be stacked).
How to Store Royal Icing
Since it's just meringue powder and sugar, royal icing can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
How Long Does Royal Icing Last?
If stored properly, it will last up to three days.
Can You Freeze Royal Icing?
Yes, you can freeze royal icing in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container for up to two months. When ready to use, thaw in the fridge overnight and then bring to room temperature before piping.
I use royal icing for my Gingerbread Cookies.
Desserts That Use Royal Icing
I use this particular simple royal icing recipe for cookies like my Santa Face Sugar Cookies, Skeleton Cookies, Irish Heart Shamrock Cookies, Chocolate Snowman Cookies and more!
Here are some more desserts that use royal icing:
- These Classic Iced Oatmeal Cookies use a thin royal icing right on top.
- Sweet royal icing pairs perfectly with these Honey Cinnamon Cut-Out Cookies.
- This is the perfect topper for Classic Gingerbread Cookies.
- Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies can be frosted so many different ways, including with royal icing!
- 1 pound (about 4 cups) confectioners' sugar
- 4 tablespoons meringue powder (or powdered egg whites)
- ¼ cup water
- In a bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and meringue powder and ¼ cup water.
- Beat on low speed until soft or stiff peaks form (depending on the consistency you want), about 5 min. Scrape down the sides of the bowl regularly.
- Add more water near the end to adjust the consistency for flooding versus piping.
Tasty cookie recipes!
About Tara Teaspoon
I’ve been in the food publishing business for over 20 years, creating recipes & food-styling for magazines, books, television & advertising. Order my new cookbook & stick around for amazing things to eat.
Recipe TaraTeaspoon.com. Royal Icing images by Ty Mecham.
Mary Bench says
Use this all the time!
Mary Bench says
Use this all the time! Easy and good!
Brittany Smart says
This icing is incredible! So much easier to decorate with it
Veronica Olson says
Going to try this icing this week - I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂
Oh awesome! You know where to find me if you need help 🙂